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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 22 November 2018

Face value: Why I gave up on cleansing balms

How coconut oil proved to be the ideal cleansing balm for this beauty columnist

Coconut oil is a great alternative to make-up remover. Getty 
Coconut oil is a great alternative to make-up remover. Getty 

As much as I love wearing make-up, there is no better feeling than taking it all off at the end of the day. A few years ago, the beauty industry decided that regular make-up remover wouldn’t cut it anymore, and it was time for us all to switch to cleansing balms, which promise to remove product and cleanse the skin without stripping it of its essential oils.

I took the bait and promptly ordered a cleansing balm from Eve Lom, which was a popular choice at the time. I wasn’t a huge fan of its slightly gritty texture, but cleaning my skin with what was essentially an oil was new to me, and I liked the results. Intrigued, I tried various other brands: a giant tub of Emma Hardie ­Moringa Cleansing Balm (its soothing fragrance quickly made it my favourite); Elemis (nothing to write home about); The Body Shop (they call it a butter, but it pretty much does the same thing, and is a good option if you’re on a budget); and even a painfully expensive but lovely option from Omorovicza.

I was happy in my balmy bubble, until one evening when I realised that I had run out, with no back-up at hand, and vaguely remembered reading something about using coconut oil as an alternative. I gave it a shot, applying it in the same way as my balms.

I melted a little of the extra-virgin coconut oil that I usually used for cooking, between my palms, massaged it onto my fully made-up face and gently wiped it off with a warm flannel. I followed this process up with a face wash to cleanse the skin (which I did with balms as well), and my skin immediately felt squeaky clean.

It was a light-bulb moment. I had been spending an average of Dh200 to Dh300 per pot on cleansing balm, while my small bottle of good quality extra-virgin coconut oil that cost Dh16 did exactly the same thing.

I will admit to being worried that it might upset my combination-oily skin. There has been a lot of debate about using coconut oil as a make-up remover, with some people claiming it clogs their pores and causes terrible breakouts.

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Read more:

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As with anything skincare-related, I took this advice with a grain of salt, as what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. I have now been using coconut oil as a make-up remover for almost a year and it has fared me well.

A bottle of coconut oil now sits proudly on my bathroom counter at all times. I use it to take my make-up off, as a shaving cream (it ensures that the razor glides, with no nicks, and saves you the trouble of moisturising afterwards) and as a hair mask – and the mental maths of how much I’m saving on beauty products also makes me feel pretty slick.